Writer In Residence Program Puts Published Authors In Arizona Libraries

By Annika Cline, Steve Goldstein
Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - 4:25pm
Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2016 - 4:45pm
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(Photo by Annika Cline - KJZZ)
Amy Nichols is the Glendale Public Library writer in residence.

Libraries are filled with authors; you can find them on the covers of all the books, but a few libraries around the state now have real, live authors in them, thanks to a new Writer in Residence program through the Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records. 

Amy Nichols led a teen workshop on building a story at the Glendale Public Library Monday. Building a story is something Nichols is very familiar with. She’s a published young adult author, and for the next three months she’s Glendale Public Library’s writer in residence. She’s hosting workshops and also has open office hours at the library for anyone who wants to come in and chat about writing.

“I had one man walk in one day and he just said, ‘I don’t know how to do this.’ And so we chatted,” Nichols said. “He said he had written three chapters, and he didn’t really know what he was doing. And I said well, you know, I didn’t really know what I’m doing either but you know. We figured it out, and I gave him some tips. And people are welcome to come back again and again and just hang out and talk.”

Libraries around Arizona might have occasional workshops with writers, but an extensive program like this is brand new for the state. Amy Ledin with the Arizona State Library said the goal is to connect published writers with aspiring writers in the community.

“I think having a person who's actually published a book being present can demystify the process of becoming a writer. And it allows them to see them as a person and not just see them on a pedestal,” Ledin said.

There are four writers in residence for this first round. They’re in Glendale, Avondale, Mesa and Tucson. Ledin said they’ll do one more cycle after that, and then the continuation will depend on whether federal funding for the program is renewed.

Nichols said the piece of advice she’d like to pass along is something she was told a while back.

“You have to start. And you have to finish. And I think those are sometimes the two hardest things, because getting started, like staring at that blank page can be really intimidating. So just getting started can be a great act of courage,” Nichols said. 

Then you’re well on your way to those last two words: The End. 

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